The Great Bok Debate: Should Heyneke be axed?

2015-10-27 09:40
Heyneke Meyer (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Should Heyneke Meyer have his contract as Springbok coach extended up until the 2019 Rugby World Cup - or should #Heynekemustfall?

The jury is out and there certainly are pros and cons to his future at the helm of the national team.

Sport24’s Garrin Lambley on why Meyer should stay on as coach:

Let’s assume for a moment that the Boks beat Argentina in their bronze medal match on Friday. Third place overall would certainly be a marked improvement on 2011’s defeat in the quarter-finals.

In his time in charge, Meyer has established a nucleus of players who are primed to perform at their peak in Japan in four years’ time. Players like centres Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende and Jan Serfontein, locks Lood de Jager, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth, tighthead Frans Malherbe, fullback Willie le Roux and flyhalf Handré Pollard are all expected - baring injury - to become Bok stalwarts in the years to come.

Meyer has a 66% win ratio - which is better than his predecessor Peter de Villiers (62.5%) - and over the course of history the Boks have only won 64% of their matches so he is “ahead of the curve”.

While Meyer’s transformation record is poor - and it’s a key point on SARU’s agenda - no replacement, local or foreign, will easily find players of colour to meet those demands as the matter needs to be addressed, and get buy-in, from provincial coaches at Currie Cup and especially Super Rugby level to start with.

Many will point to the one-dimensional approach of the current Bok gameplan. Perhaps the best way forward would be to have a think-tank session with all the attack coaches at provincial level and appoint someone to take charge of the attack side of matters. Maybe looking towards New Zealand for that appointment wouldn’t be a bad idea…

Meyer could still continue is his role as head coach, just with better assistants at his disposal…

Sport24’s Herman Mostert on why the time is right for a new coach:

The Springboks may boast a 66% win-ratio under Meyer as coach, but their record against old foes - New Zealand - is dismal in recent years.

Under the tutelage of Meyer, the Springboks have beaten the All Blacks just once, while losing seven.

Saturday’s semi-final against the Kiwis was a close affair on the scoreboard, but perhaps not a fair reflection of proceedings on the field of play. The All Blacks dominated all facets of play and had the game been contested in better conditions, may have sealed off the game much earlier.

The Kiwis also appeared nervous in the first half, with flyhalf Dan Carter uncharacteristically kicking possession away against a resolute Springbok defence.

When the heavens opened during the half-time break, with the Boks leading 12-7, the script was written for an upset.

However, the fact is the Boks didn’t have an adequate enough game plan to put the All Blacks away. They never looked like scoring a try and their lack of impetus on attack was evident to see.

New Zealand dominated territory (67%) and possession (57%) and according to statistics derived from World Rugby’s official website, dominated all facets of play.

Whether the Springboks claim third place at the World Cup or not, 2015 will go down as a torrid season. They lost all their matches in the Rugby Championship, including a first-ever loss to Argentina, as well as the embarrassment of losing to Japan in their World Cup opener.

However, it is their lack of impetus with ball in hand which is the most worrisome. Aimless tactical kicking has also put them under pressure countless times, and as some pundits noted, it was “better for rugby” that the team who played all the rugby won at the weekend.

Perhaps the time has come for SA Rugby bosses to consider a foreign coach to change the way the Springboks play the game…

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